Jill Paton Walsh
"A re-issue of a forgotten favourite, FIREWEED is an evocative and unflinching story of wartime survival for younger readers"
Fireweed – picture

A re-issue of a forgotten favourite, FIREWEED is an evocative and unflinching story of wartime survival for younger readers

Bill is a fifteen-year-old runaway evacuee, and he’s finding that surviving on the streets of London is pretty easy, thank you very much. He’s fed by a local cafe owner, he earns some cash as a barrow-boy in Covent Garden, and sleeping in the Underground air-raid shelters is cosy – if a bit smelly. Things get more complicated for Bill with the arrival of Julie. She’s a runaway too, and although she’s a bit posh, she’s just as determined as Bill to stay free of interfering parents and ‘the social’. But although it’s fun for a while to duck Jerry missiles and camp out in bombed-out houses, the reality of living through the Blitz quickly begins to set in. Winter is coming, and Bill and Julie will discover that playing at being grown-ups can be a very dangerous game….

First published in 1969, and winner of the 1970’s Book World Festival Award, FIREWEED evokes a time of tin Spitfires, powdered eggs, warm woollen mittens and reading by firelight. Perfect for readers young and old, this book is a beautifully written classic, full of adventure, heroism and British wartime courage.

Publication Date: Thu 1 Aug 2013
ISBN Paperback: 9781471401749
ISBN Ebook: 9781471401732



Jill Paton Walsh

Jill Paton Walsh was born Gillian Bliss in London in 1937. Jill has won several awards, including the Whitbread Prize, The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, The Universe Prize, and the Smarties Grand Prix. In 1970 FIREWEED won the Book World Festival Award, and her adult novel KNOWLEDGE OF ANGELS was nominated for the 1994 Booker Prize. After living for many years in Surrey, she is now settled in Cambridge. In 1996 she received the CBE for services to literature, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Visit Jill at her website:


Remember? I can still smell it. I met her in the Aldwych Underground Station, at half past six in the morning, when people were busily rolling up their bedding, and climbing out to see how much of the street was left standing. There were no lavatories down there, and with houses going down like ninepins every night there was a shortage of baths in London just then, and the stench of the Underground was appalling. I noticed, as I lurked around, trying to keep inconspicuous, that there was someone else doing the same. I was lurking because I wanted to stay in the warm for as long as possible, without being one of the very last out, in case any busybody asked me tricky questions. And there was this girl, as clearly as anything, lurking too.I was fifteen that year, and she seemed sometimes younger, sometimes older. She looked older now, because she had that air adults have, of knowing exactly what they are doing and why. Now I come to think of it, lurking is the wrong word for her; I was lurking - she was just staying put. But I knew she was playing some game like mine, because she hadn't any bedding either. She was clever at getting out unnoticed. She waited till a great loudly-yapping family with kids all sizes came swarming past her, and then just tagged along behind them. I joined their wake too.